Pastor, We Are Praying For You2 min read

“Pastor, we’re praying for you.” Those were the words I heard as I descended the steps, passed the front entrance of Immanuel, Leland, and made my way to my office prior to the Sunday morning Divine Service. I turned to acknowledge the parishioner speaking, and to express my gratitude, when she met me with an extended hand holding a single white sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper, folded in half.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when the pastor is handed a single sheet of paper on a Sunday morning accompanied with the words, “Pastor, we’re praying for you,” he is typically not convinced that the words tucked in that folded up piece of paper contain good news. Nonetheless, I said, “Thank you,” accepted the offering, engaged in a bit of light conversation with her, and then headed to my office.

With some trepidation, I sat down at my desk and unfolded the sheet of paper. At the top of the page was the title, “Praying For Our Pastor.” Below that were two columns. The first contained all the weeks of the year with the appropriate dates. The second contained signatures of Immanuel, Leland parishioners. Each signature represented a single member or family that agreed to pray intentionally for their pastor and his family for an entire week of the calendar year.

As you might expect, that was quite encouraging for this pastor to see. And I keep that piece of paper close at hand, next to my Call documents, to remind me when the going gets tough, just who is in charge of this whole endeavor (God in Christ!) and who is supporting me and my family in prayer.

It’s been at least three years now that I’ve received a piece of paper like this from one of my parishioners, along with those words, “Pastor, we’re praying for you.” The one in 2020 was especially meaningful. A pastor regularly prays for the people God has called him to serve. He does this in the Prayer of the Church on Sunday morning, and at various other times during a given week. How special it is—though certainly not necessary—to also have just a small piece of evidence that the prayer line goes both ways.

A couple of years ago I found myself in a conversation with some folks from another parish. In that conversation they asked, “How best do you think a congregation can care for its pastor?” I told them my story. Can you think of a better way (aside from a fair salary and decent benefits!) that a congregation can care for its church workers than through prayer?

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 4:3–5).

Photo courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. Joshua LaFeve serves Immanuel Lutheran Church in Leland, Mich.

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